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Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! CD (album) cover


Godspeed You! Black Emperor


Post Rock/Math rock

3.72 | 193 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

3 stars Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! represents GYBE's return to the fold. Fans of GYBE had waited a long time for this album. Efrim, Sophie, Thierry had put their energies into the Silver Mt Zion collective, and many thought there might not be any new GYBE albums forthcoming. However, as with much great non-mainstream music, it took a while for people to hear the original albums, and by the late naughties (2000s) the band's reputation had solidified, not only among music lovers but journalists and various social movements. Many were clamoring for the opportunity to see the band, so meeting the demand, GYBE began touring again, mostly with the same core musicians (Efrim Menuck, David Bryant, Michael Moya, Thierry Amar, Mauro Pezzente, Sophie Trudeau), but a few others to replace other former members. The tours did very well (and are excellent - highly recommended in my opinion!), creating demand for a new album. Indeed, this album won the 2013 Polaris Music Prize for best album, which is a Canadian indie music award decided collectively by the music press, an alternative to Canada's mainstream Juno awards. It is highly respected among Canadian musicians, and if one is wanting to hear something new and different, one will never be amiss going for one of the Polaris albums of the year. Even more fascinating is GYBE's response to winning the award. Instead of just happily accepting, they sent a very critical message, criticizing the awards gala and the whole concept of music awards, and announced they were donating the cash awarded them to a Quebec organization that provides musical instruments for jailed prisoners. This only solidified GYBE's radical reputation and cult following, and it does not appear to have been a publicity stunt. GYBE are the real deal, with something important to say, and deserve to be listened to.

Saying this, I actually think this is their weakest of their albums. The first tune (the 20-minute-long "Mladic") is excellent, and a highlight of their post-GFC tours. The album is worth purchasing just for this piece of music. However, the other three compositions are not up to the usual GYBE standards. There is another long song ("We Drift Like Worried Fire", also 20 minutes), but although it contains some great musical moments (particularly in the middle through the end), it does not hold together well as a single composition, and parts of it are not so musical and can drag. In between these longer compositions are two shorter "drones", and while are not off-putting they don't add much musicality to the album. I would have preferred if they could have been incorporated into the other long pieces, or otherwise further developed in some way - as it is, they are just 'there'. Saying this, one thing I like about GYBE is that they continue to push the boundaries of music, and to use the slow build-up as a compositional tool. I guess this includes having no qualms about releasing 12 minutes of, essentially, the same note! That they could do this and still win the Polaris Prize is really fascinating, and to my mind speaks well of the open-mindedness of today's music press. Nonetheless, when scored on musicality, this album is much less impressive than their other albums. For me it just fails to make it to four stars, and so get's a PA score of 3. (I give it 7.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which is below my threshold (7.9) required for a four-star rating).

Walkscore | 3/5 |


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